Here in Warren County we are close enough for a day of hunting to all four Pennsylvania duck hunting zones. Warren County is in the North Zone which reaches from our western border and down to I-80, and eastward to the Delaware River. The South Zone is everything south of I-80. The Northwest Zone consists of Erie County, Crawford County and southward to I-80. The Lake Erie Zone includes Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay and the area within 150 yards of Lake Erie.
The first half of the split hunting season for ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers opens this Saturday, Oct. 9, in all zones except the Lake Erie Zone.
I remember well my first real duck hunting adventure. Ducks were not as abundant then, in the early 1960s. Ray Bimber took me to a series of beaver ponds on East Hickory Creek, in what is now the Hickory Creek Wilderness. It was quite a hike, about a mile one way, for what would amount to jumping whatever ducks might be on the beaver ponds and hopefully getting off a couple of shots. Once they flushed they would be gone and the only thing for us to do was walk back out to Ray's car.
Everything is more exciting when you are 12 years-old, though. As we closed the distance to the upper pond I felt an exhilaration that only someone who has hunted as a kid can understand.
I had heard the peee, peee, peee of wood ducks before, so when I heard that sound I looked frantically for the ducks. When I did see them I fired two quick shots from Ray's 16 gauge side by side L.C. Smith and hit nothing but air. But at least I had taken a couple of shots.
It would be a week, or so, later before I dropped my first wood duck over a small, slow moving creek near Ray's House. But I had become a dedicated, enthusiastic duck hunter before, when I missed the small flock of woodies over the beaver pond on East Hickory Creek.
This year I got a dose of added enthusiasm for duck season by shopping for a new duck gun. Several years ago I decided that I should be a one-shotgun hunter, mainly because I am only a fair shot with a scattergun. This year, though, I decided that just the one shotgun would not do for duck hunting. I did not want to get silver stripes on the barrels of my Beretta over/under by leaning it on the seat of the aluminum boat I use for hunting on the river and creeks in the area. Neither did I want to drill it for sling hardware, a necessity if I would continue to carry a shotgun considerable distances.
I started looking for a Mossberg Model 500 in the Flyway configuration. I have owned a few Mossberg Model 500 shotguns and they fit me well. But it seems that most gun shops just carry youth models in the Model 500, preferring for adults the Model 835 which shoots 3-1/2-inch shells.
I turned my attention to a black Remington Model 870 which to my surprise cost considerably less than special ordering the Mossberg I had wanted. I also owned a Model 870 several years ago and it fit me well. I bought the magazine end cap to fit a sling swivel and was delighted to discover that the synthetic stock has a built-in fitting for the other sling swivel. Now the only thing left to do is decide wether or not I want to camouflage my newest shotgun.
Anticipation is a great portion of the enjoyment of any kind of hunting or fishing. Usually this phase of the hunt involves some sort of shopping. As usual there are some new products for duck hunters.
Federal Premium Ammunition has introduced new Black Cloud Snow Goose loads. The special thing about these loads is their ability to reach way out to take snow geese. This is accomplished through a muzzle velocity of 1,635 fps with 1-1/8-ounce of shot along with their own special wads and non-toxic shot. All of the Black Cloud line features the high velocity that is so necessary for waterfowl hunting.
Whenever you leave your vehicle to start a hunt you face the complication of carrying an ever increasing amount of gear including a couple of calls, the cell phone, a GPS, your vehicle keys, and other small items that can get lost.
A solution to this is the EZ Access Chest Organizer System. It is perfect for duck hunters who typically carry suck small items. Camouflaged with Mossy Oak Break-Up, this low profile organizer includes a pouch, two small pockets, three quick-attach buckles, a neck strap with two key rings, attaching clips and two cord assemblies. It can be worn around the neck or around the waist.